This Week in History, July 13 – 19, 2015


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.

They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Week of July 13-19, 2015



July 13

1787 – The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 establishes a government in the Northwest Territory. It allows the territory to become at least 3 but no more than 5 states and each would be admitted to the Union when the population reaches 60,000.

1832 – Henry R. Schoolcraft discovers the source of the Mississippi River is Lake Itasca, Minnesota.

1836 – U.S. patent #1 is issued for locomotive wheels (after 9,957 unnumbered patents were issued!). Patent #8,000,000 (8 million!) is issued in 2011.

1865 – Horace Greeley, who favors westward expansion, advises his readers to “Go west young man” in a New York Tribune editorial. The actual quote is, ”Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”

1865 – P.T. Barnum’s American Museum in lower Manhattan burns down. The loss of the museum and the nine other buildings that are destroyed is estimated at $1 million.


1923 – The Hollywood sign is officially dedicated in the hills above Hollywood, Los Angeles. The sign originally reads “Hollywoodland” but the last four letters are dropped after renovation in 1949.


1939 – Frank Sinatra makes his recording debut singing “High Hopes” with the Harry James Band.

1954 – The United States, Great Britain, and France reach an accord regarding Indochina, which divides Vietnam into two countries, North and South, along the 17th parallel.

1976 – The trial begins in the USSR for Valery Sablin for his 1975 mutiny on the Soviet submarine the Sentry. The true story of the mutiny is made into the 1990 American movie “The Hunt for Red October” based on Tom Clancy’s 1984 book. Sablin is convicted and executed by order of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Sablin is buried in an unmarked – and unknown – grave.

1978 – Lee Iacocca is fired as Ford Motor President by chairman Henry Ford II. The following year, Iacocca is hired as president of the Chrysler Corporation.

1984 – Terry Wallis is injured in a car accident and left comatose. He comes out of the coma in June of 2003 and is still disabled. Wallis is 51 years old.

1985 – The “Live Aid” concert raises over $70 million for African famine relief.


July 14

1798 – The Sedition Act prohibits public opposition to the government through “false, scandalous, and malicious” writing against the U.S. government in response to foreign threats.

1853 – President Franklin Pierce opens the first U.S. World’s fair at New York’s Crystal Palace. The Palace is destroyed in 1858 by a fire that started in an adjacent lumberyard.


1914 – Dr. Robert Goddard is granted the first patent for liquid-fueled rocket design.

1921 – Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted in Massachusetts of murdering a shoe company’s guard and paymaster during an armed robbery. Italian-born anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti are executed in the electric chair in August 1927 at ages 36 and 39 respectively. After requesting a review of the case, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis issues a proclamation on the 50th anniversary of the their execution that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfailrly tried and convicted.

1934 – The New York Times erroneously declares that Babe Ruth’s 700 home run record will stand for all time. Hank Aaron breaks Ruth’s record in 1973 (755 total home runs) and Barry Bonds breaks Ruth’s record in 2006 (762 total home runs).

1946 – Pediatrician Dr. Ben Spock publishes “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.”

1951 – Triple Crown champion Citation (1948) runs his final race, winning the Hollywood Gold Cup, making him the first horse to earn over $1,000,000 in winnings. Citation is inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1959 and dies in 1970 at the age of 25.

1952 – The first transatlantic helicopter flight begins when two U.S. Air Force Sikorsky H-19s travel from the U.S. to Wiesbaden, Germany. The total flight time is about 52 hours, but because of stops in Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, and the Netherlands the trip takes 21 days.

1953 – The George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri, becomes the first national park to honor an African American.

1965 – American space probe Mariner 4 flies within 6,118 miles of Mars after an eight-month journey. This mission provides the first close-up images of the red planet. The mission launches November 28, 1964.

1985 – The last U.S. Football League game is played. The Baltimore Stars defeat the Oakland Invaders 28-24. The league begins in 1983.

1986 – Richard W. Miller becomes the first FBI agent convicted of espionage. After 3 trials Miller is convicted in 1993 and sentenced to 20 years, which a judge reduces to 13 years. Miller is released in 1994 and is now 78 years old.

2008 – The iTunes Music Store reaches 10 million applications downloaded. The following year the number of applications downloaded reaches 1.5 billion.


July 15

1789 – The Marquis de Lafayette (Marie Joseph Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier) is named colonel-general of the new National Guard of Paris. During the Revolutionary War, Congress commissions Lafayette a Major General in the Continental Army. He assists George Washington in winning the war and they become life-long friends.

1830 – Indian tribes (Sioux, Sauk, and Fox) sign the fourth Treaty of Prairie du Chien giving the U.S. most of Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. William Clark (of the Lewis and Clark Expedition) represents the U.S. at the signing.

1870 – Georgia becomes the last confederate state to be readmitted to U.S. after the Civil War ends in 1865.

1870 – Hudson’s Bay and the Northwest Territories are transferred to Canada.

1876 – St. Louis Brown Stockings’ pitcher George W. Bradley throws baseball’s first major league no-hitter against the Hartford Dark Blues.

1916 – William Boeing forms the Boeing Company (Pacific Aero) in Seattle, Washington.

1922 – The first duck-billed platypus publicly exhibited in the U.S. at New York Zoo.

1933 – Wiley Post begins his first solo flight around world. The flight takes 7 days, 18 hours. He is killed, along with his friend Will Rogers, when their plane crashes in Alaska on August 15, 1935.

1954 – The Boeing 707 becomes the first commercial jet transport plane tested in the U.S. The prototype, nicknamed “Dash 80,” serves as a flying lab until it is given to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in 1972. Boeing goes on to build more than 14,000 jetliners.


1975 – The last flight of the Saturn 1B rocket launches from Cape Kennedy.

1975 – The U.S.S.R.’s Soyuz 19 and NASA’s Apollo 18 launch and rendezvous in space two days later.


1976 – Brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld and their friend Frederick Woods kidnap 26 school children and their bus driver Frank Ray in Chowchilla, California. They hide the bus in a quarry and demand $5 million ransom, but the bus driver helps the students escape. All three kidnappers plead guilty and are sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, which is changed to life with the possibility of parole. All three men are still in prison. Frank Ray died in 2012 at age 91.


1980 – Johnny Bench hits his 314th home run as a catcher, breaking Yogi Berra’s record.

1991 – U.S. troops leave northern Iraq after Desert Storm.

2006 – The social networking service Twitter is launched.


July 16

1769 – Father Junipero Serra founds Mission San Diego, the first mission in California.

1790 – U.S. Congress establishes the District of Columbia, initially known as “The Federal City.” The nation’s capital moves from Philadelphia to Washington, DC in 1800.

1862 – David Farragut is the first Rear Admiral in U.S. Navy.

1909 – Detroit and Washington play the longest scoreless baseball game in American League history (18 innings).

1926 – The first underwater color photographs appear in “National Geographic” magazine. The pictures had been taken near the Florida Keys.


1935 – The first automatic parking meter in the U.S. is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

1941 – Joe Dimaggio hits in his 56th straight game with the American League New York Yankees. The streak ends the next day in Cleveland, but Joe goes on to hit in the next 18 consecutive games. Willie Keeler of Baltimore holds the National League record with 45 consecutive hits during the 1896-97 season.

1945 – The U.S. detonates the first atomic bomb in a test at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

1951 – J.D. Salinger’s novel “The Catcher in the Rye” is published.

1957 – Marine Major John Glenn sets the transcontinental speed record in an F8U-1P Crusader. Glenn sets another record when he becomes the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962 in Friendship 7 and the oldest person in space in 1998 at age 77 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

1969 – Apollo 11 launches carrying Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin on the mission to land on the moon.

1988 – Florence Griffith Joyner sets the 100-meter women’s world record at 10.49 seconds during the Olympic time trials in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is considered the fastest woman of all time because her record for the 100-meter and 200-meter has never been beat. Flo-Jo died in 1998 at age 38. Watch the fastest woman ever:

1990 – The Empire State Building in New York City catches fire on the 51st floor of the building. There are no fatalities, but 38 people are injured.

1999 – John F. Kennedy, Jr. (piloting a Piper Saratoga), his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette are killed in a plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.


July 17

1775 – The first U.S. military hospital (medical department) is approved in Massachusetts with a Director-General (chief physician of the Hospital), four surgeons, an apothecary (pharmacist), and nurses (usually wives or widows of military personnel). The pay for the surgeons and the pharmacist is $1.66 a day and nurses $2 a month.

1821 – Spain cedes Florida to the United States.

1856 – The Great Train Wreck of 1856 between Camp Hill and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, kills over 60 people when two trains traveling on the same track in opposite directions collide.


1938 – Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan leaves New York for Los Angeles in his modified Curtiss Robin and ends up in Ireland. He is denied permission to fly across the Atlantic and claims his trans-Atlantic flight is due to a navigation error. The New York Post prints its headline backwards. Watch a 50th anniversary news report with Corrigan:

1941 – The longest hitting streak in baseball history ends when the Cleveland Indians pitchers hold New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio hitless for the first time in 57 games.

1955 – Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California. The Magic Kingdom covers 160 acres and costs $17 million to build. Watch Walt Disney’s opening speech:

1955 – Arco, Idaho, becomes the first U.S. city lit by nuclear power. The Experimental Breeder Reactor Number 1 near Arco becomes the first reactor in the U.S. when it goes online in 1951.

1962 – Robert White sets the altitude record of 354,300 feet (over 67 miles) in the X-15.

1962 – The Senate rejects Medicare for the elderly. The Medicare bill passes in 1965.

1972 – The first 2 women begin training as FBI agents at Quantico, Virginia. Former Marine Susan Roley Malone and former nun Joanne Pierce Misko complete the 14-week training. Malone works for 7 years before rejoining the Marines. Misko retires in 1994 after 22 years of service. In 2012 they are honored on the 40th anniversary of their groundbreaking service.


1974 – John Lennon of The Beatles is ordered to leave the U.S. in 60 days for his 1968 drug possession conviction in England.

1980 – Ronald Reagan formally accepts the Republican nomination for president.

1995 – Forbes Magazine announces that Bill Gates is the richest man in world ($12.9 billion). Bill Gates still tops the list with $76 billion.

1996 – Paris-bound TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747, explodes off the coast of Long Island, New York, killing all 230 on board.

2005 – Tiger Woods wins his 10th major golf tournament by winning The British Open Championship by 5 strokes. Woods becomes only the second golfer, after Jack Nicklaus, to win each major more than once.


July 18

1768 – Boston Gazette publishes “Liberty Song,” America’s first patriotic song.

1853 – The first train to cross the U.S.-Canada boundary goes from Portland, Maine, to Montreal.

1918 – U.S. and French forces launch the Aisne-Marne offensive in France during World War I.

1927 – Baseball Hall of Famer Ty Cobb gets his 4,000th career hit on his way to 4,191.

1932 – The U.S. and Canada signed a treaty to develop the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1940 – The Democrat National Convention nominates FDR for a third term as president.

1947 – President Harry Truman signs the Presidential Succession Act. The line of succession after the VP is Speaker of the House, President Pro Tem of the Senate, Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Defense, the Attorney General, Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, HHS, HUD, Transportation, Energy, Education, VA, and Homeland Security (as long as they are constitutionally eligible).

1969 – Mary Jo Kopechne dies when Senator Edward Kennedy drives his car off the Chappaquiddick Bridge. Kopechne, age 28, drowns in the car. Two fishermen found the submerged car in the morning because Kennedy had not reported the accident. Kennedy, age 37, pleads guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and receives a two-month suspended sentence.

1986 – Videotapes are released showing Titanic’s sunken remains. Marine geologist Robert Ballard discovers the Titanic wreckage 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland, 13,000 feet down on the ocean floor.


1994 – Comet Shoemaker-Levy collides with Jupiter. American astronomers Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy discover the comet in 1993.


July 19

1692 – Five more people are hanged for witchcraft (making 20 in all) in Salem, Massachusetts.

1848 – The first U.S. women’s rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss women’s social and political equality. Nearly 300 people attend the 2-day convention.

1850 – The Airship Elizabeth leaves for Fire Island, New York, during a storm and crashes, killing 42 people.

1879 – Doc Holliday (a dentist) kills for the first time after a man shoots up his New Mexico saloon. Holliday flees when a reward is offered for his capture. He joins the Earp brothers in the gunfight at the OK Corral in 1881. Holliday died of TB at age 36 in 1887.

1899 – New York City newspaper boys revolt when Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise the price they charge the boys to sell bundles of 100 newspapers from 50 to 60 cents. The childen stand their ground until the newspaper moguls back down.


1909 – The first unassisted triple play in major-league baseball is made by Cleveland Indians shortstop Neal Ball in a game against Boston.

1912 – A meteorite with an estimated mass of 190 kg explodes over the town of Holbrook in Navajo County, Arizona, causing approximately 16,000 pieces of debris to rain down on the town.


1945 – The USS submarine Cod saves 56 sailors from the sinking Dutch sub O-19 in the only international sub-to-sub rescue in history. After being mothballed, recommissioned, and decommissioned, the USS Cod opens for public tours in 1976 and is designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. She is now docked in Lake Erie at Cleveland, Ohio.

1957 – Don Bowden becomes the first American to break the 4-minute mile (3mins, 58 secs).

1961 – TWA shows the first in-flight movie (MGM’s “By Love Possessed” starring Lana Turner and Efrem Zimbalist Jr.)

1973 – Willie Mays is named to the National League all-star baseball team for 24th time (ties with Stan Musial). Hank Aaron holds the record at 25 games.

1985 – Christa McAuliffe is chosen as the first teacher to fly in a space shuttle. She is killed on January 28, 1986, during the Space Shuttle Challenger launch.

1996 – The XXVI (26th) Olympic games open in Atlanta, Georgia.


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